Paul Barber reveals childhood abuse in foster home: 'We trust adults to look after us and they play on that – they still do'

The Only Fools and Horses actor was both physically sexually abused while living in foster care

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The Independent Online

Paul Barber says he suffered abuse as a child living in foster care.

The Only Fools and Horses actor – known for playing Denzil in the television series – was abused both physically and sexually following the death of his mother, when he was aged seven.

"We trust adults to look after us and they play on that – they still do," said Barber.

He was nine-years-old when a man lured him into his car and forced him to perform a sexual act.

"I was playing outside and this guy drove up and asked if I knew where a street was," said Barber. "I said 'Yes' and he said, 'Get in and show me.' It was only two streets away so we drove up there.

"Then he asked, 'Can you keep a secret?' I didn’t know what was going on and I ended up performing a sex act on him. By the time I got home this man had bumped into my brothers and sister in the street.

"I still don’t know why, but he told them, 'Your young brother has just done this' and the police were called.

"My foster parents assumed it was my fault. They treated me like I was the instigator which really p***ed me off and I thought, 'No, that’s wrong.'"

Born in Liverpool, Paul’s father died young and when his mother fell ill with Tuberculosis, he and his older brothers Paul, Brian, Michael and sister Claudette were sent to a convent, where the nuns "beat us all for anything".

The five siblings were eventually sent to a foster home, where they were subjected to further physical abuse and consequently, Barber ran away in an attempt to find other family to live with.

He was unsuccessful and forced to return to his foster carer.

"So I had to sneak back late at night and she caught me and stripped me naked and locked me in the front room," he recalled. "An auntie had given me a photograph of me when I was smaller with my mum and she took it off me and tore it up in front of my face.

"She came back in the morning and said, 'Do you want breakfast?' then pulled out the cane and whipped me with it. I was stark naked."

The next time Barber ran away he left with his brothers and sisters and they were moved to a children’s home, where the abuse ended.

He admits that his move into acting was perhaps a way of escaping from his traumatic childhood.

Barber also acted in The Full Monty and The Long Good Friday.

"Victims of abuse have had to live with these things," he told The Mirror. "Some of them go off the rails some of them hit the bottle or drugs. I ended up going to into show business so you could say I ran away and joined the circus."

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